By Laleye Dipo in Minna
The Niger State Government has revoked all licences issued for felling of timber in the state even as the government has also outlawed the burning of wood for charcoal.
A law to give legal backing to the government action also stipulated that offenders would be liable on conviction to two years imprisonment or payment of N100,000 fine or both.
However some 60 people, who were arrested recently and charged to court for violating the law, were sentenced to a fine of N20,000 each because “they are first offenders”.
The Commissioner for the Environment, Alhaji Idris Jibrin Amin, told newsmen in Minna on Monday that since the revocation of the licences for timber felling and the request by government that those involved in the business should renew their licences “no one” had come forward to obtain the permit.
Amin said anyone engaging in timber felling was doing so illegally as those interested in the business should obtain the necessary permit for them to engage in the business without fear of molestation.
The commissioner said a task force to ensure that the law was obeyed had been set up, adding that the task force had apprehended some people in connection with illegal timber felling.
He said the administration was not afraid that the arrests of people would have a political backlash adding that: “We cannot say because we want to win election we will not do what is right.
“We will win the election despite the arrest of people for contravening the law.”
Amin said the ‘Green Guards’ employed by the last administration to assist in protecting the forests in the state have been given permanent employment though they all agreed to forfeit the 11 months they worked without pay before the present administration came on board in 2015.
The commissioner disclosed that with the government paying N300 million, which was part payment for the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project, the scheme would soon take off in the state.
He blamed inadequate logistics and paucity of funds for the inability of the ministry to carry out routine monitoring, enforcements and supervision.